Consumer Profile: Defining the Ideal Customer

Create a customer profile based on demographics, income, and more

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Every business should invest time and resources in creating consumer profiles of your ideal customers.

These profiles describe consumers based on different categories so they can be grouped for marketing and advertising purposes. By targeting advertising to a specific market segment, companies and marketers can find more success in selling a particular product and increase profits. Consumer profiles allow you to define and describe these market segments.

Consumer Profile Definition

Before marketing a product to potential customers, you will need to define your target customer based on their:

  • Lifestyle
  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Buying patterns
  • Purchasing preferences
  • Stage of life

A consumer profile is a description of a customer, or a set of customers, based on the characteristics that they have in common.

Using Market Segmentation to Create Consumer Profiles

No matter how targeted your product, there will be some variations in your ideal customers. For example:

  • Your customers might all be the same age but live in different geographic regions.
  • You offer products at different price points to allow you to reach customers at different income levels.
  • You offer one product that can appeal to customers with different interests.
  • Some of your customers watch network TV, while others are more likely to see advertising on social media.

Creating multiple consumer profiles allows you to segment your customers based on these differences. You can then use this market segmentation to create advertising that is more successful with different groups of customers.

There are many different traits that can be used to segment customer groups, such as:

  • Demographic: Age, city or region of residence, gender, race, ethnicity, or household composition.
  • Socioeconomic: Income, educational attainment, occupation, neighborhood, or association memberships.
  • Brand affinity/product usage: Product engagement, purchasing history, or level of brand loyalty.
  • Psychographics: Lifestyles, life stage, personality, attitudes, opinion, or voting behavior.
  • Generation: Specific generation cohort group.
  • Geography: Geographical area in which consumers reside and work.
  • Geodemographics: Combines geography and demographics, which may cluster into identifiable groups.
  • Benefits: What consumers are looking for when they shop for products and services.

Consumer profiles are often used by market researchers, many of whom develop proprietary consumer profiles or use panels of consumers who have been classified according to their common attributes.

However, any business can and should create consumer profiles to allow for more targeted marketing and advertising. You don't have to work with a market research firm to develop useful consumer profiles.

Segmentation Systems for Creating Consumer Profiles

If you do want to use preexisting consumer profiles, there are many options available.

Market research firms often make their consumer profiles available for discrete market research projects that are conducted for their market research clients at large companies. There are several different examples of classification categories that market research firms use.

ABC1 is a common grouping strategy based on the professional job role of an individual, a person designated as the head-of-household, or the main contributor of income to a family. The term ABC1 is shorthand for the first three socioeconomic groups in the taxonomy, which is:

  • A = Senior or higher managerial, administrative, or professional
  • B = Intermediate managerial, administrative, or professional
  • C1 = Supervisory or clerical, and junior managerial, administrative, or professional
  • C2 = Skilled manual workers
  • D = Semiskilled and unskilled manual workers
  • E = Everyone entirely dependent on public support (chronically ill, unemployed, elderly, disabled, and other reasons)

Lifestage and other special groups are mostly categorized according to proprietary consumer research or census-based research. Different countries associated specific percentages with each of the life stages groups. The standard taxonomy for life stage groups is:

  • Pre-Family or No Family: Younger than 45 who are not parents.
  • Family: Any age with at least one child younger than 16 still at home.
  • Third Age: Ages 45-64 with no children younger than 16 still at home.
  • Retired: Older than 65 with no children younger than 16 still at home.

ACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighborhoods) is a geodemographic segmentation used in the United Kingdom. The system uses census data on residential areas to categorize consumers based on income, education, ethnicity, and other traits. Postal codes then can be associated with specific ACORN categories because people who live in neighborhoods tend to share a number of attributes.

MOSAIC is a system of consumer classifications that covers consumers in 29 countries, including the United States, Australia, Eastern Asia, and Western Europe. It identifies 10 types of residential neighborhoods that can be found in cities around the globe and classifies more than 400 million households worldwide.

ESRICommunity Tapestry is a system for classifying households in the United States. It divides U.S. neighborhoods 14 LifeModes, including:

  • Affluent Estates, Upscale Avenues, Uptown Individuals
  • Family Landscapes, GenXurban, Cozy Country Living
  • Ethnic Enclaves, Middle Ground, Senior Styles
  • Rustic Outposts, Midtown Singles, Hometown
  • Next Wave, Scholars and Patriots, Unclassified

These LifeModes are subdivided into more than 60 market segments such as Top Tier, Enterprising Professionals, Rustbelt Traditions, and Urban Villages.

CAMEO is a classification system that divides consumers into segments both within specific countries and around the world. CAMEO UK classifies households within the United Kingdom, while CAMEO International is a global system that segments customers across borders. CAMEO Global is the largest system of segmenting consumers in the world, covering buyers across 40 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Asia Pacific region.

PSYTE HD is a Canadian geodemographic system that uses postal codes to classify consumers into more than 50 groups based on lifestyle and neighborhood. It uses the Canadian census as well as third party data to create a comprehensive map of consumer behavior based on neighborhood.

How to Use a Consumer Profile

Once you have collected relevant information about your current and potential customers, creating consumer profiles that describe specific segments allow you to envision a person interested in your product. This gives you an in-depth understanding of:

  • What will motivate them to find your business.
  • The benefits they are looking for.
  • Where they are most likely to interact with your advertising.
  • The messaging that will best appeal to their needs and wants.

Once you have a clear picture of the type of customers your business should be targeting, you can create an appropriate marketing strategy. Your ideal customer profile will help you pinpoint the who, where, and how to reach potential consumers interested in what your business has to offer.